Press Release

10 July 2013

Sun, sea and sand are the elements of the perfect summer's day. As the years go by, it is becoming more apparent that to get these luxuries at the same time you would need to travel abroad.

Trevor and Colin enjoying their day at the seaside
Trevor and Colin enjoying their day at the seaside

However, back in the 1950s and 60s one of the most popular places to eat ice creams and socialise with friends and family was at Margate seaside. And now a Principal Lecturer from Canterbury Christ Church University has embarked on a project to preserve images of the seaside from a bygone era.

The South East Archive of Seaside photography (SEAS) is a project directed by Dr Karen Shepherdson, Principal Lecturer in Photography at Christ Church University, and will digitally archive the substantial seaside photographic collections. The two year project, funded by Heritage Lottery, will ensure traditional Sunbeam photography is saved for future generations to look back on.

Dr Karen Shepherdson said: “My leadership of SEAS is underpinned by a belief and value in the importance of UK seaside culture and that documentation of this culture (in this instance the photographic) is of significant heritage value.

“I am thrilled by the images emerging from the archive and the associated stories we are uncovering - these cannot remain hidden in store cupboards with little or no public access - SEAS is endeavouring to bring them into the light, to share their delights and to enrich this resource still further.”

The project focuses on the use of the Sunbeam photographic collection which consists of glass plate and film negatives dating from 1920 to the mid 1970s, and a collection of commercial seaside photographs and ‘walkies’.

‘Walkies’ were photographs taken of tourists and local residents who would be snapped by Sunbeam photographers on the beach and surrounding areas. A ‘walkie’ photograph would involve naturally capturing families and friends whilst they were walking, playing and many other activities, occasionally with the aid of props.

Sunbeam photographers would actively capture and document the excitement of the life on the Isle of Thanet and the civic, ceremonial and political events that took place in the 20th century. 

Sunbeam offered a means of recording daytrips to the seaside. A photograph taken one day could be bought the following, and many of these photographs have been kept in family albums and forgotten about until now, where they are being brought forward for public viewing.

The Collection is owned by Thanet District Council and is usually housed in Margate Museum, but for the purpose of digital archiving, they have been moved to Canterbury Christ Church University.

From the 12 to the 15 July, SEAS are hosting an exhibition, SEAS Photography & The Sunbeam Collection, open to the public to showcase the modest hint of treasures within the Sunbeam Collection. The different sections of the exhibition will look at, At The Seaside, Celebrity, Carnival & The Carnivalesque, Seaside Photographs & Walkies and The Domestic photographs from the 20th Century.

For more information visit the SEAS photography website:

Notes to Editor

SEAS Photography & the Sunbeam Collection

  • 12th-15th July
  • The Pie Factory, Old Town, Margate, CT9 1EW

Canterbury Christ Church University

Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.

With nearly 20,000 students, across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.

  • 93% of our recent UK undergraduates are in employment or further studies six months after completing their studies*.
  • Christ Church is the number one choice for local people looking to study at university in Kent (2011 UCAS).
  • We are the South East’s largest provider of courses for public service careers (outside of London).

*2010/11 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey


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Last edited: 14/12/2018 22:16:00